FOREIGNERS AND MEDIATORS IN THE CONSTITUTION OF MALAY SOVEREIGNTY
Through reading the Sejarah Melayu, this article suggests that foreigners are fundamental to the constitution of Malay sovereignty. Malay polities, located at the crossroads of international trade, thrived on commerce with foreign merchants. Power and wealth necessarily engage the foreign, as does destruction. The Sejarah Melayu pays attention to how foreign powers are identified, tested and incorporated, in a compact that constitutes Malay sovereignty and polity. This process, in which a universal kingly line transforms into Malay sovereign, creates a language that enunciates the terms of alliance between local and foreign. A single process both incorporates the foreign and establishes the ritual language of Malay sovereignty. Malay sovereignty thus constituted takes diarchical forms in texts and in history. The Sejarah Melayu model of diarchic sovereignty is contrasted with the political constitution of contemporary Malaysia derived from colonial India, in which a singular, exclusive, autochthonous, native Malay culture claims sovereign rule. © 2013 Copyright Editors, Indonesia and the Malay World.
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